The West Virginia State Museum at The Culture Center
For decades history has been taught in most school systems as a chronological series of events. Each event is unique. A specific date and location are further defined by any combination of assorted points of interest such as people, politics, economics, and natural phenomenon. The student's involvement with this information becomes an exercise in retention. The goal: retain essential facts through the duration of the inevitable exam. After that, all bets are off. Making history relevant to today's student is more of a challenge than ever. Past practices aside, the first true computer savvy generation has entered the work force. These digital natives are programming their own personal devices with an apparent endless supply of options. Choice and speed are assumed. How can we relate historic perspective to someone who communicates in "real time" and measures change in seconds instead of centuries?
We look to Socrates, "I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think." And there we begin. Working with educators and historians, we have created personal experiences in the museum with the stories that illustrate what became and is the 35th state. Each individual is placed "in the moment", experiencing the sights and sounds that immerse the curious and the dreamer. For the young learners who ask "what's next?" We want them to discover that we need to know where we've been to know where we are going. The state museum's education programs support the West Virginia Department of Education's (WVDE) vision of high standards and preparedness for higher learning. The programs meet the 21st century content standards and objectives for West Virginia schools, combine multiple disciplines and target all grade levels. The format involves designing experiences that require research, investigation and reflection, which strengthen higher-order thinking skills and analytical proficiency.
To ensure that all materials compliment the individual teacher's course of study, the education staff invited educators to develop curriculum programs and materials for the inaugural Teachers Guide. This project was the result of a partnership with our sister agency, the Center for Professional Development (CPD). Our agencies also collaborated to design instructional videos to enhance the information for teachers and students preparing to visit the museum. We have enjoyed the generous support of the RESA III office, the Department of Education, The Governor's Office of Technology and the Marshall University Department of Integrated Science and Technology. All have provided wisdom, creativity, enthusiasm and encouragement. We are not finished. We look forward to hearing from you. We intend to listen to you and continue to provide programs and services that excite your students about West Virginia's rich cultural heritage.